No Need to Fret Ohio State Fans: Buckeyes Will Be Just Fine In 2016


Any zealous fan of college football with solemn interest in and conventional wisdom of the sport, knows that if there’s any college football coach that has skillfully mastered his craft, it’s Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. All that the charismatic, and intense, Ashtabula, Ohio native has done since taking the job at Ohio State is win football games.

Coach Meyer has cultivated a sense of pride and respect within the Ohio State football program. However, after losing sixteen starters from last year’s team, which was loaded with NFL talent , there are a lot of uncertainties surrounding the Ohio State football program. But no need to fret Ohio State fans, the Buckeyes will be just fine in 2016!

Times flies, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it seem as if just yesterday Ohio State was celebrating winning the 2014 national championship? Looking back, there were a lot of uncertainties surrounding Meyer’s 2014 squad at the beginning of the season. Senior-to-be and two-time Big Ten player of the year QB Braxton Miller suffered a season-ending shoulder injury just weeks before the season began and the new starting quarterback was a redshirt freshman. The majority of the Ohio State starters were inexperienced underclassmen, and four out of five of its starting offensive lineman needed to be replaced.

Then, twelve games into the season, Miller’s backup quarterback J.T. Barrett went out with an injury. To make matters worse, the team had to deal with the death of teammate Kosta Karageorge as well. Against all odds, the Buckeyes went on to win the national title. Could we see a similar scenario in 2016.

Like the 2014 season, there are a lot of uncertainties surrounding the 2016 football team as only six starters will return for the Buckeyes. Due to Urban Meyer’s’ ability to recruit, talent won’t be an issue. However, experience could be a big one.

But if you know anything about Urban Meyer, you know that Ohio State will get things together. It’s not that hard to do when you consider the fact that Meyer and Ohio State signed the number two ranked recruiting class in the country in 2013, the number three class is 2014, number seven class in 2015 and number four class in 2016, according to the composite rankings. This team will be a legitimate national title contender. However, the Buckeyes will probably experience some growing pains first.

While walking my dog yesterday, I came across this tree that had beautiful little white flowers making an attempt to fully blossom in Ohio’s ever changing and unpredictable early spring (well, practically winter) weather. But on this tree, I couldn’t help but notice these select few flowers on the side it, sprouting from a rather unusual place. Although they had never fully grown to their maximum potential yet, seeds of radiance resonated deep inside of them, making them stand out in places one wouldn’t usually expect.

That made me think of all of the young Bucks that will be suiting up for Urban Meyer this coming season and got me excited to think about the untapped potential that Buckeye fans have yet to discover. For instance, many are anticipating the arrival of freshman-to-be defensive end Nick Bosa, a five-star recruit who’s the younger brother of former Buckeye all-american defensive end Joey Bosa. There are many more where that came from, too.

Sure there are many highly touted recruits that will arrive on campus and/or slip into starting roles this fall, but it’s exciting to think of some of the lesser hyped, under-the-radar players we may discover. For instance, offensive tackle Pat Elflein has stepped up in a huge way since his arrival at Ohio State. Had he chose to skip his senior year and declare for the NFL draft, he would be one of the top interior guards taken.

Yet coming out of high school in 2012, Elflein was the 978th ranked recruit nationally, the 56th ranked offensive guard, and the 62nd ranked player in Ohio in his class, according to the composite rankings. Similarly, linebacker Darron Lee was just the 633rd rated prospect nationally in 2013. Now many people are projecting him to be a late first or second round 2016 NFL draft pick. That, my friends, is the Urban Meyer effect at its fullest!

The way Meyer brings out talent is uncanny and something that is worth taking note of. Going back to the 2014 season, Ohio State played mediocre in its first game, coming away with a comfortable 14-point victory against the Navy Midshipmen. Having said that, the final score wasn’t indicative of how close the game really was. In the following game, the youth and inexperience of the team, although talented and highly touted, was evident as it lost to the Virginia Tech Hokies, a team from another one of the power five conferences, by 14 points.

Realistically speaking, many thought that it was going to be a long year for the Buckeyes. Yet the team got better every game and shocked the college football world by overcoming all of the adversities it faced en route to its eighth national title. Just like in the 2014 season, Ohio State is scheduled to play another team from a power five conference early in the 2016 season — the Oklahoma Sooners.

Coming off of a season in which the Oklahoma Sooners made it to the college football playoff, they will be a major playoff contender once again this coming season. Returning for the Sooners are seven starters on offense, including all Big Twelve and senior-to-be quarterback Baker Mayfield, and seven starters on defense.

The team will be ambitious and primed to make yet another national title run. Although I am and will always be a Buckeyes fan, I see Oklahoma coming on top in this matchup. Especially when you consider the fact that they’ll be playing at home.

I think Mayfield will feast off of Ohio State’s young secondary and that that will be the key to the victory. Win or lose, however, it will not take them out of the national title picture per se.

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After Ohio State’s loss to Virginia Tech in the 2014 season, it faced a couple of cupcake opponents in Cincinnati and Kent State. In those two games, the Bucks outscored their opponents 116 to 28. That gave them moxie and a certain degree of swagger going into conference play, and by the end of the season they proved that they were one of the best teams in the country.

So despite having to play, ‘that team up north’ (Michigan) and away games against Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan State in 2016, this team will have enough talent on it to run through conference play unblemished. And if  loss against Virginia Tech in 2014 didn’t keep them from making a playoff run, an early season loss against a powerhouse like Oklahoma certainly wouldn’t prevent them from being one of the four teams selected to play in the four-team playoff by season’s end either. That’s if they even lose the game in the first place.

Who knows who will step up this coming season? Regardless of anything that may occur, however, Ohio State will be a viable national championship contender in 2016. There’s just too much talent on their roster for them not to be.

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And if there’s just a touch of greatness in someone, Meyer will bring every bit of it out. Just keep in mind that flowers can blossom from the most unexpected places!